Decentralized Authoritarianism in China: The Communist Party's Control of Local Elites in the Post-Mao Era

Decentralized Authoritarianism in China: The Communist Party's Control of Local Elites in the Post-Mao Era

Pierre F. Landry

Language: English

Pages: 316

ISBN: 0521882354

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


China, like many authoritarian regimes, struggles with the tension between the need to foster economic development by empowering local officials and the regime's imperative to control them politically. Landry explores how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) manages local officials in order to meet these goals and perpetuate an unusually decentralized authoritarian regime. Using unique data collected at the municipal, county, and village level, Landry examines in detail how the promotion mechanisms for local cadres have allowed the CCP to reward officials for the development of their localities without weakening political control. His research shows that the CCP's personnel management system is a key factor in explaining China's enduring authoritarianism and proves convincingly that decentralization and authoritarianism can work hand in hand.

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and the officials who rule them. Cities now control a far greater share of the country’s resources than at any point in the history of the People’s Republic. In 2000, municipalities accounted for 51.8% of China’s GDP, 50.1% of its industrial output, and 76% of the value of services (Jiang and Cui, 2001). This increased economic might was largely purposeful. The center aimed some of its boldest reform initiatives at municipalities, symbolized by the early creation of special economic zones as

Hongzhong’s career in Guangdong is a case in point. A vice mayor of Huizhou in the 1980s, Mayor Li – who was born in 1956 and holds a college degree in history from Jilin University – improved his education credentials at the central Party school in 1996–1997 in a program for middle-aged cadres and was a visiting research fellow at the Kennedy School at Harvard University. He became a full mayor in 1996. By the time he was appointed municipal secretary in 2000, the city’s GDP per capita was 36%

management. Source: JES database. Overall, the views of the respondents of the Jiangsu Elite Survey on the cadre appointment system are remarkably consistent with the fundamental features of the formal system. The local officials share the belief that the formal hierarchy of intra-Party institutions is respected in practice. The CCP seems to have succeeded in instilling key institutional norms, namely, a shared set of expectations about the scope and the relative capabilities of the key

variables just discussed. These are assumed to have fixed effects regardless of the specific item under consideration by the respondent. γ k indicates item-specific assessments. In practice, Y is a vector of N.T elements and d a dummy variable controlling for the specific item under consideration.19 19 However, this methodology cannot account for the sequencing effect of these items. Note that this specification imposes the strong restriction that β is fixed for all question items. Predicted

−0.039 −0.011 0.020 0.018 0.023 0.036∗∗∗ 0.020∗∗∗ 0.045∗∗∗ 0.022∗∗ 0.015 0.028 0.005∗∗∗ Cadre characteristics Bureaucratic rank Seniority in current post Influence on county decision making Benefit of prefectural reform Employment seniority Seniority as state cadre Level of education CCP seniority Contrasts for employment sector (baseline is “other”) Agriculture Industry, commerce, and transportation Finance, trade, and statistics Foreign affairs and economic relations Police, justice, and

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